As an appointed member of the Drinking Water and Groundwater Advisory Commission, GeoInsight’s senior staff member Andrea Kenter, P.G. has been working with the State of New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) to establish an assistance initiative for income-eligible households to mitigate failing residential wells due to the impacts of the 2020 drought. Together, the Commission and NHDES developed the initiative which will include emergency temporary relief to ensure households have an adequate supply of drinking water in the near- and long-term. The Commission resoundingly approved the allocation of $1.5M during the October 15th meeting to immediately get the program started.
Due to a less than usual snowpack in winter 2019, overall fewer and smaller precipitation events this year, and several tropical storms that have veered away from New England, as of earlier this month, the State of New Hampshire now finds itself in dire straits with the entire state experiencing moderate to extreme drought conditions. The majority of New Hampshire currently supports D2 (severe) drought conditions and the southeastern corner of the state has been classified as a D3 zone with extreme drought conditions resulting in widespread crop loss, significant base flow decline in rivers and streams and an unprecedented number of water supply wells going dry.
As an immediate temporary solution, households that have no potable water due to the ongoing drought with occupants earning less than 80% of the published HUD median household income for their area, may be eligible for bottled water deliveries for consumptive purposes at no cost. Applicants are asked to take a quick survey and provide the results to the NHDES. The applicants will ultimately be asked to work with a licensed well driller or pump installer to implement one of several permanent solutions to mitigate their problem. Options include lowering the well pump, deepening the well, hydrofracturing the existing well to increase yield, installing a new well, or connecting to an available public water supply if one is available to the residence.
Implementation of a program of this magnitude is unprecedented in the State.